Posted by: thehungryrunner | June 13, 2009

Update on “straining yogurt with cheesecloth” experiment

A few days ago, I posted on the desire to experiment with straining my own yogurt, both because I enjoy eating thick yogurt and for the purpose of using strained yogurt and/or “yogurt cheese” in recipes.  So.  Here are the outcomes of my experiment so far:

Straining flavored yogurt with cheesecloth:

Since most of what’s in my fridge at the moment is flavored, “light” yogurt, I was curious to see how it would strain.  My thought was, a thickened cherry or vanilla “yogurt cheese” could make an interesting spread on toast, or an ingredient in a smoothie or light cheesecake.  So I cut out a section of cheescloth, set it in a strainer, and spooned the contents of a 6-oz. container into it.  I initially placed a bowl under the strainer to catch the liquid that way, but eventually tied up the cheescloth and suspended it from one of our cupboard handles, thinking the weight of the yogurt might help strain out the liquid.  About 4 hours later, some liquid did leave the yogurt, but very, very little.  And although I placed the little cheesecloth bundle back into the strainer with a jar of preserves on top (to “push” more liquid out)…..there wasn’t much more straining going on.   The result was yogurt that appeared only slightly thicker than before, not enough to really be noticeable.  If anything, it was simply annoying, trying to scrape the goopy yogurt off of the cheesecloth.  Next.

Straining flavored yogurt with a coffee filter:

I had read that a coffee filter can be used instead of cheesecloth.  Thinking this might be more effective and less messy, I set a coffee filter in the same strainer, and dumped a cup of “light” pineapple yogurt into the coffee filter.  I set the strainer on a bowl, put saran over the filter and set it in the fridge.  6-8 hours later I went to make a smoothie with the yogurt, only to discover that there wasn’t ONE DROP of liquid strained out of the yogurt!  In fact, the strainer wasn’t even wet! 

I began to wonder if maybe these “creamy” flavored yogurts are made with binders or related ingredients, specifically to prevent separation and therefore aren’t good straining candidates.

I also made a discovery, this morning as I pulled out Yogurt #3 for the next experiment, that I inadvertantly left the cheesecloth in it’s folded state when I did that first strain.  It turns out it’s actually folded (duh) two times, meaning I had 4 layers of it for that first experiment.  So maybe that was part of the reason for the less-than-impressive results.


This morning I took a large (16 oz.) container of plain, nonfat yogurt, and once again pulled out the cheesecloth.  This time I made sure I unfolded the cheescloth so that only one layer was used.  Put the cheesecloth into the strainer and the strainer into the bowl, then spooned in the full 16 oz. of yogurt.  Set it into the fridge.  EUREKA!  Within the first hour I already had over 8 oz. of liquid strained out.  More has been strained since, so I think this might be the ticket.

So is it because I used plain yogurt instead of flavored/creamy?  Is it because of the weight of the larger amount?  Using only one layer of cheesecloth?  Who knows, maybe a combination of all three.  I imagine, though, that starting with plain yogurt is a huge key.  So if I want flavored strained yogurt, I might still have to start with plain, then flavor it myself before straining.  But….I plan to re-test the flavored yogurt with the single layer of cheesecloth, so hopefully we’ll have a better idea soon.

So curious to see what happens with the current strained-yogurt-in-progress!



  1. I think the flavored yogurts have emulsifiers that are meant to make it thicker and hold its shape, but also prevent moisture from being strained from the yogurt. Only plain yogurt is strained to make thick yogurt, and then the companies add the flavoring after straining.

  2. […] to Make: Homemade Yogurt How to Make: Greek-style Strained Yogurt How to Make: Greek-style Strained Yogurt (from […]

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